Home is where the ________ is

Home is a concept I have struggled with over the past couple years.  Moving away from Brampton, the only place I had ever called home for the first eighteen years of my life and starting over in Toronto was a bit of a shock.

Although Toronto isn’t really all that far from Brampton or even that different, it had me a little confused as to where home truly was. Was Toronto now my home because I spent the majority of my time there? Was it Brampton because that’s where I was born? Both? I had no idea.

Going “home” after school meant going to my downtown apartment, but going “home” for the weekend meant something totally different. What and where is home?

Although I’m still not entirely sure four years later, I think I’m starting to get a better idea.

My parents are currently in the process of moving which has brought up all sorts of emotions. I don’t live there and I don’t visit a lot, so it shouldn’t matter if they leave…right?

Wrong.

The last time I moved houses I was in grade one.  It was almost Halloween and that took greater priority in my young life than moving houses did. I don’t remember much else.

I moved into this house when I was just six years old, almost 16 years ago. That is 16 birthdays, 16 Christmases, 16 New Year’s, Halloweens and Thanksgivings spent in that house. It means 16 first days of school and 16 last. 16 years of memories.

If the walls of my house could talk, they’d tell stories of a little girl prancing around in various dance costumes practicing routines, stories of three dogs running around the backyard, and of hockey pucks shot at a worn garage door.  Births, deaths and all of the moments in between. The walls of this house would tell the story of my family.

For the past sixteen years, I’ve walked up the same driveway, slept in the same room, ate breakfast in the same kitchen.  It’s strange to know I won’t be able to do that anymore. ” Going home” will soon mean visiting a house that I don’t recognize.

Due to my sentimental and sometimes over-dramatic nature, I am having a difficult time with the decision to move. This house, although it’s not the only place I’ve lived, is the only place I can truly remember calling my home. Through attempting to cope with this huge change, I’ve come to realize that it’s not the physical house I am attached to.  It is the memories that the house holds.

Home is not a place.

It’s not the city you’re from or a house in the suburbs or a tiny box of an apartment in the financial district.

It is a feeling.

It’s a feeling of familiarity, a feeling of comfort, a feeling of belonging. It’s the memories and emotions a place triggers, rather than the building itself.

Home is the dance studio I spent hours rehearsing in until I was out of breath and covered in bruises.

It’s the Esso gas station where me and my friends would go to get slushies and ice caps every day after school.

Home is forest I walked my neighbour’s dog in every evening and had my not so ideal first kiss in.

It’s the spot by the catwalk where I’d go and watch my friends play hockey, but refuse to participate.

Home is the daycare playground of the school on our street where I’d sit late at night talking with my friends.

It’s my elementary school where I knew everyone by name and everyone knew me.

Home is the drama room in my high school that always seemed to smell like feet.

It’s standing behind the studio cameras at school, rather than in front of them and feeling totally in my element.

Home is my baby blanket, my bed, old photos and old friends.

It’s St. Agnes, Mayfield and Ryerson.

It’s Brampton, Toronto, and Huntsville.

It’s anywhere I’m surrounded by the people and things that I love.

Home is walking into my undisturbed bedroom in Brampton and feeling relieved that some things still stay the same.

In a world that keeps on changing. My house has been my only constant. Friends changed, schools changed, jobs changed, and even I changed, but my house always stayed the same. I’m trying to remember that a house is just a building. It is the memories that make it a home.

I keep telling myself that a house is just a building. It is the memories that make it a home and that’s something that can never be sold and relocated to another city.

Brampton and that house will always own a piece of my heart.

Because home truly is where the heart is.

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